Why i can’t recycle my paper coffee cup ?


The problem with most paper cups is that they are not usually all paper.  Most are paper on the outside, with a nearly invisible coating of polypropylene on the inside.  This combination of paper and plastic makes recycling nearly impossible without specialized machinery.


Most recyclers and MRF’S (Materials Recovery Facility, pronounced “Merfs” ) do not have this special machinery and the economics of recycling make investing in one impractical.


So why coat the cups?  It makes paper more impervious to water, and also helps keep hot drinks warm. This combining of dissimilar materials in the design of single-use products is the reason why many things are not recyclable.  The same goes for paper envelopes lined with bubble-wrap – the paper will contaminate the recycled plastic, and the plastic bubble wrap will contaminate the recovered paper.  Foil lined snack wrappers and “sachet” packaging are usually buried, burned or littered for the same reason.


Kid’s Activity:  With the help of an adult, rubber gloves, a paper cup and some drain cleaner, kids can soak the cup for one hour, then gently scrape the dissolved paper to reveal the plastic liner.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjP791eqSoQ  It is a good lesson that underscores the importance of using reusable coffee cups instead of disposable “paper” ones.

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